Women are Freezing at Work Because of Formula Created for Men

Science offers answers to an age-old workplace problem.

(Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock)

(Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock)

If you want to start an argument or hear one of your co-workers complain for 15 minutes, start talking about the temperature in the office. Some say it’s too cold, others say it’s too hot and finding a happy medium is nearly impossible.

At one of my early jobs, a group of women complained constantly about the cold. It’s freezing in here. My toes are frozen. This is inhumane. I felt just fine, but I felt bad that they were constantly uncomfortable.

Now two researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands may have uncovered the reason why my female co-workers were cold and I was comfortable. In a new report published in the journal Nature Climate Change, they argue that conventions for setting office temperatures stem from the 1960s and are based on the metabolic rate of a 40-year-old, 154-pound man. But that “may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35 percent.”

“This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy efficient in providing comfort to females,” the report said. (The two researchers are male, by the way.)

In general, women prefer the temperature to be 25 degrees Celsius (77-degrees Fahrenheit) while men prefer the climate to be 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.)

“Thermal comfort models need either to be recalibrated or enhanced using a biophysical approach,” the researchers conclude. “This, in turn, will allow for better predictions of building energy consumption, by reducing the bias on thermal comfort of subpopulations and individuals.”

So if you see a co-worker wrapped in a blanket or sweater during a hot, summer day, you know why.

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